We’ve all heard that old axiom before: the only way to write is to sit down at the computer and type away. Yet that discipline had me feeling all tapped out. Ideas no longer flowed from my brain, to my hands, to the paper. What little I did manage to write seemed dull and lifeless. No wonder. I was dull and lifeless. Clearly, it was time for me to get away from the computer.
The first step I took was to enroll in an adult education class-just for fun, nothing difficult. And soon, something wonderful happened. Writing ideas started popping up left and right. In addition to the subject matter, there were the new faces and voices around me to consider. They all became fodder, in some way, for my writing. Since that first class, I’ve tried to take one class annually and throughout the years I’ve studied everything from beginner Spanish to Tai Chi to handwriting analysis. Each of these subjects has found its way into my writing, boosting my sales. For example, a stance from one of Tai Chi’s twenty-four movements called ‘cradle the egg’ became a metaphor in an article about a family Easter tradition elevating the piece from an average anecdote to saleable writing.
Encouraged by my progress, I decided to also join a new writers group. There, I was challenged by some fellow group members to attend an eight-week poetry workshop facilitated by my county’s current poet laureate. During those eight weeks, I watched my prose improve as a result of learning to use language in a different way and, in addition, I gained the courage and skill to write and submit poetry. Since participating in that workshop, I’ve either placed or taken honorable mention in several poetry competitions, and published poetry as well.
But, I did not stop there. Seeing the success I reaped from looking up and out of my writing rut influenced me to get into the habit of climbing out of some personal ruts as well. Even a change in two of my most mundane activities, going to the library and grocery shopping, led to writing successes. By visiting a library in a different community, I met a homeless gentleman who became the subject of a story that was my first publication in a literary journal. Likewise, a trip to a supermarket ten miles from home led to a chance meeting with an art teacher from my younger days. That renewed acquaintance has led to a series of personal essays, many of which have sold to various publications. The momentum of that meeting still continues. Lately, my friend has confided in me about her lifelong interest in poetry and a show featuring her paintings and my corresponding poems is currently under discussion.
Sure, we need the discipline to sit in front of our computer and write if we want to sell our work. I can’t argue with that. But, we’ll never get the fresh ideas we need for interesting and lively pieces if we don’t change things up once in a while. So, go ahead – make a change. Try something new. Meet some new people. Then come home, sit down at your computer, and type away.
Monica A. Andermann lives and writes on Long Island where she shares her home with her husband Bill and their cat Charley. In addition to being a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her work has been included in such publications as Sasee, The Upper Room, and Woman’s World.
WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION: ADVICE FOR THE DIGITAL AGE
Research, write, publish and promote historical fiction using digital tools!